Tag: You’re It!

Here in the mountains of Tennessee, the summer community I visit is all about dogs. Dogs are everywhere–splashing in creeks, wriggling in the dirt, trotting across long wooden bridges on some mysterious trek that only they understand, or happily following behind a large group of children on their way to the pool. One such dog that might cross your path is a beautiful chocolate Lab named Tag. Now, most of the year Tag lives in Memphis but this summer, she is enjoying the cooler climes of the Cumberland plateau. But Tag comes with a bittersweet story: she was intended for another life. With her refined lineage, good profile, and excellent musculature, Tag was bred to be a serious hunting dog–one that ardently retrieves waterfowl for her master. Thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours were spent training Tag to serve in this capacity, except there was a problem: Tag misread the signals. She couldn’t understand the meaning of her trainer’s gestures. Instead of doing what she was supposed to do, she headed in another direction, which is how she found herself far from any dog kennels or duck blinds, ensconced in a home of noisy, happy children.

There’s a lot about Tag I identify with.

This pooch is a perfect analogy for the experience of many when it comes to re-booting: we thought we were on one path, only to have it go wrong somehow and find ourselves doing something else. Now, anthropomorphizing Tag further, bear with me as we imagine her feeling depressed that she couldn’t manage to do what she was expected to do. Tag could mope around her fenced-in yard, depressed, feeling bad about her status as just another family pet. She could moon over glossy photos of all those magnificent sporting breeds her master needs to pursue his own interests. Instead, Tag does what all of us who must adapt to significant change should do: she shrugs it off, blooming where she’s planted, taking advantage of the opportunities presented—napping at will under the shade of the porch, contentedly following her mother around, being the best dog she can possibly be. Forget all those stupid hand signals! Tag is a beloved and well cared for member of her family! So those other Labs are running around, getting wet and muddy, dropping slobbery dead ducks at their master’s feet, Tag gets to eat leftovers!

Sounds to me as though she’s landed in a honey pot.

Ok, so you know where I’m going with this. We’ve all had our own “Tag” moments. Perhaps we simply lacked the natural talent, or, for reasons not entirely of our own making, the business went under or the relationship soured. Whatever it is, we’ve known disappointment and heartbreak. Certain things occurred making it impossible to proceed on our planned course, so now we must re-boot. A canine’s resilience and adaptability are qualities we should emulate. (Of course, it might be easier if we weren’t always looking at the larger picture or ferreting out hidden meanings beneath our failures, but that’s what separates us from the animal kingdom.)

Despite your disappointments or struggles, what honey pot have you landed in? What about this unexpected deviation has brought with it good things in terms of how you view your life today?

One of the surprising aspects of assessing my own situation manifests in the smallest of matters. For instance, problems that would’ve greatly troubled me five or ten years ago, now merit only a shrug. Here in the Payton Place where I spend time, I discovered myself to be greeted by less than a welcoming reception by certain individuals who dedicate much enthusiasm and energy to forming strong and ignorant opinions of unsuspecting others. Now, while these folks engage in a certain amount of feinting friendliness when I show up, I am not stupid. Or maybe they simply don’t care. Either way, a few years back, I would’ve been distraught over such treatment. Today, I gratefully recognize my options—spending time with people who do like me, recognizing that how these unfriendly gossips behave says way more about them than it does me, and perceiving the matter as unnecessary, pathetic, and mildly amusing. I’ve come a long way…

Ok, so having laid this out for you, I want you to spend a few moments thinking about how you could be more like Tag. Instead of feeling embarrassed or down on yourself that you couldn’t manage whatever it was that you set your heart on, instead of berating yourself for misreading the signals, how has this “set back” led to surprisingly good developments? What have you discovered about yourself along the way? Why isn’t it just as wonderful to be a beloved family pet—even if you do stink at that signal thing?

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One Response to “Tag: You’re It!”

  1. Jim Patterson Says:

    The only comment I would add Chrisanna is that I do like you. In fact everyone that I know that knows you likes you too!! Jim

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